Practical planning and timely preparation and distribution of simple, direct orders; use of proper overlay symbology; and implementation of a standard reporting system are key factors in the success of any military operation. Combat orders set forth the details of tactical operations and administration in the field. They may be issued initially as a plan to become an order at a specified time, or as stated contingencies arise. The commander and staff must understand that warning orders and fragmentary orders are the normal means of communicating in combat. The battalion task force tactical SOP can greatly reduce the verbiage in a written order and expedite staff actions in planning.



B-1 Types of Combat Orders

B-2 Essential Characteristics


B-3 Designation of Task Forces and Teams

B-4 Direction

B-5 Date-Time Group

B-6 Time Zone

B-7 Format

B-8 Overlays

B-9 Task Force Execution Matrix

B-10 Construction of an Execution Matrix


B-11 Warning Order

B-12 Five-Paragraph Field Order

B-13 Fragmentary Order

B-14 Matrix Operations Order


B-15 Warning Order

B-16 Five-Paragraph Field Order

B-17 Fragmentary Order

B-18 Matrix Operations Order


There are five types of combat orders: operation, administrative/logistics, standing operating procedures, warning, and fragmentary.


a. Operation orders are directives issued to subordinate commanders to coordinate an operation. They dictate the conduct of tactical operations and the conduct of movements. They may be issued initially in the form of operation plans (OPLANs), to be implemented upon receipt of the appropriate directives. Standard, five-paragraph OPORDs have a prescribed format discussed in detail in FM 101-5.

b. Administrative/logistics orders provide for the coordinated combat service support for a command. They are normally prepared and used at division level or higher.

c. SOPs are a set of instructions that prescribe routine and fixed procedures. They supplement combat orders and have the same authority. SOPs reduce the volume and content of other combat orders by eliminating the need for detailed guidance. There is no prescribed SOP format.

d. Warning orders are used extensively in battalion task force operations. They provide early notice of actions or orders that are to follow, to give subordinates maximum time for preparation for combat. Warning orders have no prescribed format. The warning order, written or oral, may include the following elements:

(1) Heading. Warning orders must always begin with the words "Warning Order" for easy recognition. The addressees are also included in the heading.

(2) Situation. This section includes a brief description of the enemy situation, events, probable missions, tasks, or operation.

(3) Attachments/detachments. These include any known changes to task organization.

(4) Earliest time of move. This states the earliest possible time that units must be ready to move. The actual time of move is given if it is known.

(5) Nature and time of the operation. This is stated in sufficient detail to allow recipients to begin preparation and set priorities. It also includes orders for preliminary actions and reconnaissance. Time of the operation is stated as precisely as possible, to allow recipients to allocate time and complete their preparations.

(6) Time and place of orders group. Subordinates are told when and where to go to receive the entire order. An SOP orders group--detailing who usually comes to receive orders--helps to shorten this process.

(7) Administrative/logistical information. This includes instructions that change support requirements, require special equipment, or direct movement to assembly areas.

(8) Acknowledgment. An acknowledgment of receipt of the order is always required to make sure it is received by all addressees.

e. Frequently, operation orders are modified through the use of fragmentary orders during an operation to take advantage of tactical opportunities. A FRAGO has no specified format, but an abbreviated operation order format is usually used.

(1) A FRAGO usually contains the following elements:

(a) Changes to task organization--any changes to the unit task organization made necessary by the modification to the order.

(b) Situation--a brief statement of the enemy and friendly situations, which usually gives the reason for the FRAGO and the higher commander's intent.

(c) Concept--orders to subordinate units on actions they are required to take, which are changed from the order with updated operations overlay and execution matrix, as necessary.

(d) Fire support--changes or additions to fire support.

(e) Coordinating instructions--changes to paragraphs 4 and 5 of the operation order made necessary by the change.

(2) If time and situation permit, the FRAGO should be issued by the commander face-to-face with his subordinates. This helps to ensure understanding of the new instructions and the commander's intent, and it allows the commander to provide graphics. When a FRAGO must be given over the radio, the FRAGO must be brief yet contain sufficient information to be clear. Code words and brevity codes are used if possible. Only those parts of the original order that have changed are mentioned. FRAGO procedures should be covered in SOPs.

(3) Occasionally, the task force will receive a new mission not directly linked to the operation order that is in effect. If time is critical, the mission may be given to the task force in the form of a FRAGO. A mission statement would then be a necessary part of the FRAGO.


a. Clarity. Use accepted military terminology.

b. Brevity.

c. Simplicity.

d. Completeness.

e. Authoritative Expression. Orders reflect the commander's intention and will. Indecisive, vague, and ambiguous language leads to uncertainty. Subordinates are told in direct and unmistakable terms exactly what the commander wants them to do; they are not normally told how to accomplish it.

f. Timeliness. Warning orders are issued and the one-third--two-thirds rule is observed.


This section implements STANAG 2014 (Edition 5) and QSTAG 506.

Abbreviations and acronyms are used in orders to save time and space, but only if there is no loss of clarity. The use of abbreviations should be consistent throughout any plan or order.


a. Task Force. There are two definitions of a task force; one is based on the mission and the other on organization. The one referred to in this manual is a battalion-size unit of armor or infantry to which one or more company-size units of the other combat arm has been attached or is under OPCON.

b. Team. At the company level, a temporary grouping of units is called a team. The same rules apply for its formation as for the formation of a task force, except that platoons are the basic building blocks rather than companies.

c. Designations.

(1) Task forces and teams may be designated as follows:

(2) Attached or supporting companies may be renamed to avoid confusion. For example, if the task force has retained its Company A, and another Company A is attached, the attached company could be renamed Company Mech (Tank).


Compass points are used in place of the terms left and right. If the situation indicates the advisability of including the terms left and right, they are placed in parentheses immediately following the appropriate compass point. Specific directions are given as angles from true, magnetic, or grid north (the type used is always specified).


A date-time group (DTG) is a six-digit number expressing date and time. The first two digits indicate the date of the month and the last four digits indicate the time. The month and year are added to avoid confusion. A complete date-time group would appear as follows: 241000Z January 1988.


The time zone used is the time zone that applies to the operation. Times in other zones are converted to this time zone for the operation. This entry is required in OPORDs and OPLANs and is shown as the entry following "Reference."


Standard OPORDs have a heading, a body, and an ending. (See Figure B-1.)

a. Heading.

(1) Classification. The security classification is shown centered at the top and the bottom of each page of the order.

(2) No change from oral orders. If no oral orders were issued, this comment is left out. If there were oral orders, such statements as "No change from oral orders" or "No change from oral orders except for paragraph ____ " are used as appropriate.

(3) Copy number. Assigned by S3 for accountability.

(4) Issuing unit. Unit issuing the order or plan.

(5) Place of issue. Name of easily recognized geographical feature nearest to the issuing headquarters' command post. Show coordinates of command post in parentheses, and state or country.

(6) Date-time group. The time the order or plan is signed and effective, unless otherwise stated in the body of the order.

(7) Message reference number. Assigned by the S3 for acknowledging and referring to the order in the clear.

(8) Operation order number. Assigned by the S3. Numbers run serially throughout the year.

(9) References. List any maps, charts, or other documents required to understand the order. Reference to a map includes the map series number (a country or geographical area), sheet number (and name if required), edition, and scale.

(10) Time zone used throughout the order. The time zone applicable to the operation. Times in other zones are converted to this time zone for this operation.

(11) Task organization.

(a) Major subordinate maneuver units of the task force issuing the plan or order are listed before other command and control headquarters in numerical or alphabetical order (by decreasing size), depending on the unit designation. When established, teams that are a major subordinate command are listed first in numerical or alphabetical order as appropriate. The task organization of each command and control headquarters of the force is shown by indenting subordinate units under the command and control headquarters heading. The indention indicates that the unit is organic, assigned, or attached unless qualified by a parenthetical term, such as (OPCON), or a support relationship, such as (DS) or (GS). The sequence for listing units is combat, combat support, and CSS. Combat units are listed by size in the order of infantry, mechanized infantry, air assault, airborne, and armored (armored units are listed in order of tank, attack helicopter, armored cavalry, and air cavalry units). Similar size and type units are listed in numerical or alphabetical sequence. Attached or supporting field artillery (FA) units are listed after maneuver units and are followed by other combat support units listed by size. CSS units are listed alphabetically by size after combat support units. The task organization may be depicted by phase of the operation, if appropriate. Names and ranks of commanders of each command and control headquarters may be indicated opposite the unit designation, if appropriate.

(b) In addition to the listing of major subordinate units, a control grouping is also shown in the task organization, as appropriate, such as "BN Con" or "TF Con." Combat support elements supporting the task force are listed and indented under this heading. Units in general support of the higher headquarters, and artillery units that are reinforcing or general support-reinforcing to the task force's DS artillery, are not listed in the task organization. Such units are not under the direct control of the supported unit commander, and thus they are not listed under "TF Con." (Reinforcing or general support-reinforcing artillery is listed in paragraph 1b, Friendly Forces.)

(c) At battalion level, combat service support elements are listed under a separate heading of "BN Trains" or "TF Trains." Any external CSS elements supporting the headquarters are listed indented under this heading. At company level, a trains listing is optional, based on the commander's discretion.

(d) The use of the minus symbol (-) following the unit's heading indicates that a subelement has been detached.

(e) When a command relationship has been established between an element and a headquarters, the supported commander cannot impose a more restrictive command relationship when suballocating that element to one of his subordinate units. For example, a unit placed under OPCON of a task force cannot be attached to a company team either in whole or in part, since attachment is more restrictive than OPCON.

b. Body. (Subparagraph numbering matches OPORD numbering.)

1. Situation. This paragraph provides an overview of the general situation and always contains three subparagraphs in an OPORD: enemy forces, friendly forces, and attachments and detachments. An OPLAN adds a fourth: assumptions.

a. Enemy Forces. This subparagraph contains enemy information only, which is provided by the unit intelligence officer.

b. Friendly Forces. This subparagraph contains the verbatim mission statements of higher, adjacent, and supporting or reinforcing units, and the brigade commander's intent for the operation. It includes (in order):

(1) The mission and intent of the next higher headquarters (in a task force OPORD, the brigade mission and a short statement of the brigade commander's intent taken from the brigade's concept of operation subparagraph).

(2) The mission of adjacent units listed in sequence--left, right, front, and rear.

(3) The mission of units that are supporting or reinforcing the next higher headquarters.

c. Attachments and Detachments. When not shown in the task organization, units attached to or detached from the issuing headquarters are listed here. Additionally, if a unit is to be attached or detached after the effective time of the OPORD, it is listed here with the effective time and conditions under which the change in status will occur.

d. Assumptions. This is included in the preparation of an OPLAN. This subparagraph includes situations and conditions that a commander believes will exist at the time the OPLAN becomes an OPORD.

2. Mission. The mission is a clear, concise statement of the task(s) to be accomplished by the issuing unit and its purpose. The mission statement is derived from the commander's mission analysis during the decision-making process, and it addresses the WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, and WHY of the operation. At battalion level and below, all of the essential tasks (critical to the success of the operation as determined by the commander) to be accomplished are addressed in the mission statement. The mission is always stated in full, and must stand alone without reference to any other documents except a map. For example:

"TF 2-77 conducts a passage of lines and attacks 130530A Sep 84 to seize HILL 295 (NB251369) and HILL 301 (NB296384); continues the attack to the east on order."

"TF 2-77 establishes defense from NA524165 to NA536109 NLT 210630A Nov 84; assists passage of the division covering force; and defends in sector to prevent penetration of the MUHLEN River."

3. Execution. The execution paragraph contains commander's concept and "how to" information needed for mission accomplishment. This paragraph consists of three elements: concept of operation, subordinate unit subparagraphs, and coordinating instructions.

a. Concept of Operation. Normally, the operation overlay is referenced in this part of the concept. The initial paragraph expands on the why of the mission statement to explain the "big picture" or master plan. It is the commander's concise personal summary of intent, which can be easily grasped and provides the basis for initiative. The commander's visualization of the enemy defeat and the outcome of the battle is expressed here without attempting to express every contingency.

(1) Maneuver. The scheme of maneuver describes the movement or placement of all major subordinate maneuver elements within the task force. The scheme of maneuver discusses the battle from start to finish, and describes HOW the operation will progress. It is stated in sufficient detail to ensure a thorough understanding of appropriate actions by subordinates.

(2) Fires. The scheme of fire support outlines the commander's concept for fires and integrates tasks for fires with the scheme of maneuver.

(3) Obstacle, mines, and fortifications. These items may be included in the concept of operation. Additionally, priorities of engineer effort and types of operations (mobility, countermobility, and survivability) may also be addressed. Detailed information relating to an obstacle plan is included in a separate annex and referred to here.

(4) Intelligence and electronic warfare. The concept may include a brief discussion of the commander's intelligence collection priorities and electronic warfare priorities and how they directly affect the scheme of maneuver.

(5) Other support activities. Other aspects included in the concept are suppression of enemy air defense (SEAD), air defense fires, and rear area combat operations.

b. Subordinate Unit Subparagraphs. The specific tasks to be accomplished by each subordinate element of the task force are listed in a lettered subparagraph. The units are normally listed alphabetically or numerically in order of decreasing size by type of unit. Subordinate teams (combined arms elements) normally precede branch pure elements in sequence. Additionally, maneuver units precede combat support and combat service support units. At battalion level and below, all major subordinate units or units under task force control are listed in separate subparagraphs, with two exceptions: trains elements are addressed in paragraph 4, and a unit in reserve is addressed in the reserve subparagraph. Instructions in the concept of operation may be repeated in the subordinate unit subparagraphs if the commander feels it is necessary for clarity; however, it is not mandatory to repeat. Instructions in the subordinate unit subparagraphs are limited to tasks that apply to a particular unit and only that unit. In addition to the listing of units, the following items may appear in the subordinate unit subparagraph portion of the OPORD.

--Reports other than SOP that are to be made.

--NBC troop safety instructions and operational exposure guidance (OEG).

--MOPP levels, if different from SOP.

--Air defense criteria.

--Consolidation and reorganization instructions, if other than SOP.

--Priority intelligence requirements (PIR), if not stated in an intelligence annex.

--Passage of lines coordination.

--Effective DTG, or conditions under which the order or plan becomes effective when not effective upon receipt.

--Reference to annexes included in the order (plan) not previously mentioned in the body of the order.

4. Service Support. This paragraph contains combat service support instructions and information relating to the operation. General information such as the MSR, LRPs, time and composition of LOGPACs, and methods of resupply and evacuation for supporting units is contained here. There is no doctrinal format for paragraph 4; however, the administrative/logistics order format is recommended as follows (reference may be made to unit SOP if appropriate; items not required are omitted).

a. Materiel and services. Status of classes of supply, transportation, services, and maintenance.

b. Medical evacuation, aid station locations, and hospitalization.

c. Personnel. Unit strengths, replacements, maintenance of morale, discipline, law and order, headquarters management.

d. Civil-military cooperation. Limitations or restrictions concerning local area; psychological operations.

e. Prisoner of war procedures.

f. CSS facilities. The locations and proposed locations of CSS facilities (combat or field trains) may be indicated; however, this is not necessary if shown on an overlay.

5. Command and Signal. This paragraph contains instructions and information relating to command and communications-electronics functions. It has two subparagraphs--command and signal.

a. Command. As a minimum, this subparagraph includes the initial location of the commander (to facilitate messenger operations if they become necessary); it may also include the command post locations (required if not shown graphically) and CP axis of displacement. Succession of command may be shown, if different from SOP.

b. Signal. As a minimum, this subparagraph lists the SOI index by specific number in effect for the operation as well as any changes scheduled during the operation, it may also list alternate or emergency signals (for example, pyrotechnics) and any signal restrictions, such as radio-listening silence.

c. Ending.

(1) Acknowledge. Directs the recipient of the order to acknowledge receipt. Acknowledgment may be made in the clear using the message reference number in the OPORD heading. Any instructions pertaining to acknowledging the receipt of the order (plan) may be listed here.

(2) Signature. The commander or his authorized representative signs the original copy of the OPORD.

(3) Authentication. If the commander's signature cannot be reproduced, the S3 authenticates subsequent copies of the order. Annexes issued with the order do not require signature or authentication. Annexes issued separately require or authentication in the same manner as the order. Authentication is performed by the primary staff officer responsible for the annex.

(4) Annexes. Lettered alphabetically and listed in the order in which they appear in the OPORD. S3 designates the letter to be associated with a given annex. Annexes are prepared by the appropriate officer having staff responsibility for the activity, arm, or service covered by the annex. When an annex is to be issued later and, therefore, does not accompany the order, the parenthetical phrase "(to be issued)" is shown following the listing of the annex.

(5) Distribution. Establish distribution in coordination with appropriate staff officers. Distribution must also be made to adjacent, supporting, and attached units not included in the SOP distribution.

NOTE: Because of the dynamic nature of the battlefield, the task force OPORD may be written initially in one copy and given orally.


a. The overlay is a graphic representation of the commander's scheme of maneuver and intent. Its purpose is to ensure coordinated action between all units. THE OVERLAY IS PREPARED ON THE SAME SCALE MAP THE SUBORDINATE COMMANDERS ARE USING. Overlay techniques involve the use of military symbology and control measures from FM 101-5-1 to graphically portray in a condensed form plans, orders, and information concerning the military situation. Only the minimal necessary control measures are used so as not to clutter or confuse the overlay.

b. When the overlay and the written portion of the plan or order are separate documents--

(1) The overlay is an annex; when it is issued as an integral part of the order and has the same distribution as the order, it need only be identified by title and headquarters; for example, Annex A (Operation Overlay) to OPORD 2, TF 2-11.

(2) A reference to the overlay annex is in the written portion of the order.

c. When the overlay and any written portion of the order are on the same piece of paper--

(1) A single heading and ending serve both the overlay and the written portion.

(2) No written reference to the overlay is required.

d. When representations by colors are practicable, the following colors are used on overlays--

(1) Green--friendly or enemy man-made obstacles.

(2) Red--enemy units.

(3) Yellow--friendly or enemy areas of NBC contamination.

(4) Blue or black--friendly units.

(5) If only one color is available, friendly symbols are outlined with single lines, enemy symbols with double lines.

e. The grid intersections nearest the two opposite corners of the overlay should be traced on the overlay and labeled with the proper grid coordinates. A four-digit grid is sufficient. These register (witness) marks show exactly where the overlay fits on the map.


An execution matrix lists the task force's major subordinate units and the missions or tasks assigned to them during each stage of an operation. While not required, an operation overlay that includes an execution matrix provides the task force leaders with a readily accessible, sequential summary of all taskings.


A typical execution matrix shown on many operations overlays is shown in Figure B-2. There is no specified format for the matrix. The techniques listed below may be used to construct one.

a. First, establish the basic matrix. All major subordinate elements, including scouts, mortars, and any attached, OPCON, or DS combat support units, should be listed across the top of the matrix.

b. Second, list the stages or phases for the operation down the left column. If desired, skip a row after each stage to provide space for on-order and be-prepared missions.

c. Finally, fill in the blocks with brief descriptions of the actions required for each stage or phase of the operation; use abbreviations whenever possible. If the tasking for a unit is the same in successive stages, list it only the first time; do not recopy it. If additional instructions are required, such as orientation of fires, directed movement techniques, position in a formation, or obstacle responsibility, draw a diagonal line through the box and list the action required in the upper left-hand portion and the additional instructions in the lower right-hand portion of the divided block. (Sample completed execution matrixes are shown on the Operation Overlays for Figures B-4 and B-7.)



a. Figures B-3 through B-5 show the progression of a defensive order from a warning order to OPORD and a modifying FRAGO. These orders are examples of the detailed orders that would be prepared if time and facilities are available. Figure B-6 shows a FRAGO that is issued over a secure radio net. Figure B-7 is an example of a task force hasty attack.




a. Matrix operations orders maybe used as an alternative to the standard five-paragraph operations order. The purpose of the matrix operations order is to cut orders production time and to provide subordinates more time for reconnaissance, preparation, and rehearsal.

b. There is no standard format for a matrix operations order. Matrix orders expand on the execution matrix found on many operations overlays. The single-page format may include all signal information for the day of the operation and it can be placed in the corner of a mapcase for easy reference. Matrix orders are usually issued with standard operations, intelligence, and fire support overlays.

c. Standard agreements with other NATO forces prescribe use of the standard five-paragraph operations order for task forces operating with allies.





a. Oral FRAGO.

b. Written FRAGO.